Sunday, February 28, 2010

Michael Keaton's Batman

Michael Keaton's Batman (1989), directed by Tim Burton, is now playing on Spike.

It's many years since I've seen it, and I'd forgotten how star-studded it was, with cameos by Billy Dee Williams and Jack Palance to name a few. (Although one would never forget that Jack Nicholson played the Joker.)

I never had a problem with Keaton's Batman - I rather enjoyed it as a matter of fact. This is because I'd never seen him in anything else, and didn't know he was known primarily as a comedian.

I didn't get the sense that Jack Nicholson's Joker stole the show, either - I just found him extremely annoying - and way to tubby to play the Joker!

Unfortunately, Keaton's second foray, with Danny DeVito as the Penguin, was much less successful, and kind of soured me on the project. The Penguin, as played by Burgess Meredith in the TV series, had been one of my favorite characters, but DeVito's Penguin was just a grotesquerie, as was the general plot of the movie.

What really ruined the series, in the subsequent outings, was their instance on having two villains at the same time, so we got Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, The Riddler and Two-Face (disliked the portrayals by both the actors) and so on. Why not spend some time with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson as themselves, and as super heroes, etc.

And I was totally uninterested in seeing Christian Bale's Batman, or Dark Knight as I think it should be more properly called, all angsty and monotone, and the Joker in that movie was just too creepy for words.

Give me Adam West and Burt Ward any day of the week. Yeah...some of the later episodes in that series were even campier than camp, but overall it was a great series. After that, Michael Keaton's Batman - the best of the lot.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fireball XL5

I wish I was a spaceman,
The fastest guy alive
I’d fly you ‘round the universe
In Fireball XL5
Way out in space together
Conkers of the sky. (Conkers is a game like marbles. It definitely sounds like conkers, not conquerors.)
My heart would be a fireball,
A fireball
Every time I gazed into your starry eyes.
We’d take the path to Jupiter,
And maybe very soon
We’d cruise along the Milky Way
And land upon the moon
To a wonderland of stardust
We’d zoom away to Mars
My heart would be a fireball,
A fireball
Cuz you would be my Venus of the stars

Fireball XL5 is available on DVD from (and other retailers of course) and is a lot of fun.

Fireball XL5 is one of at least 5 space ships operated by Space City. Its captain is Troy Tempest, the science officer is Venus, the doctor/comic relief is Professor Matic, and the copilot is a robot, Robert.

Space City Control is run by the grumpy Captain Zero (a precursor to the grumpy Commander Shore of Stingray) and Lieutenant 90.

Occasionally (un)comic relief is provided by Venus' talking pet, a Lazoon.

Fireball XL5 takes off from a ramp...a method of launching that was actually seriously considered for rockets as early as 1945. In When Worlds Collide, the ship takes off via a ramp.

The song lyrics for Fireball XL5 were released as a single and were the only hit its singer ever had!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How To Avoid Getting Your Emails Trashed

Today I received an email from a total stranger. Subject line: Question.

Now, in my decade or so on the internet, receiving emails from all and sundry, an email from a total stranger, with a vague subject line like that, invariably means that its spam. 99 times out of 100, I just trash it.

Today, for some reason, I opened it, and it turned out to be a legitimate email from someone wanting to borrow one of my FilmFax mags.

I thought about responding to the guy and telling him just how close he came to never getting an answer because I'd trashed his email without reading it, but eventually I didn't bother because I know some people seem to get upset if you dare to give them advice...even good advice.

So I just responded, "Sure, just tell me which one you want." and let it go at that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Theater of the Mind: Old Time Radio at 2010 Nostalgia Convention

Martin Grams Jr, author of several books on old-time radio series such as Suspense and I Love a Mystery to name only two, is one of the organizers of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, being held this year in Aberdeen, Maryland from September 23-25, 2010.

Of the guest list, sci fi actors include Mark Goddard (Lost in Space) and Ed Nelson (guest-star on a variety of SF series). (Scroll down to the very bottom of this entry to see the Sci Fi schedule at the convention - but NOTE that all items are subject to change as the months go on before the Convention.)

Below are a few videos he's put up at YouTube depicting events at past conventions. They are a lot of fun to watch (but of course it would be more fun to witness them in person!):

Martin Gram's presentation from his Twilight Zone book:

Science Fiction on the Schedule at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, being held this year in Aberdeen, Maryland from September 23-25, 2010. [Check out the website for everything else that's on the schedule, including talks from the actor-guests.)



Author Jim Rosin will discuss the science fiction series that ran two seasons on ABC, and made actor Roy Thinnes a Hollywood name! Jim will be joined with a surprise guest from the series!

Resident expert Bill Parisho will give us a fascinating look at the classic television program that attempted to cash in on the James Bond franchise and ultimately inspired a number of spy programs including Get Smart.


Authors Terry Salomonson and Martin Grams will host a fascinating slide show documenting the history of The Green Hornet, his side-kick Kato, and the Black Beauty. Whether you want to knowthe ingredients of the Hornet's knock-out gas or who how much Bruce Lee was paid for playing the role of Kato on the television series, this is the presentation you do not want to miss!



Hosted by historian Donald Ramlow. Initially published in 1930, this magazine became one of the major publications of what fans and historians call the Golden Age of Sciene Fiction and had published the work of such majors as Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein.



Before Dr. No, before The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers, TV viewers saw invisible spies, 3 inch secret agents, and evil-doers plotting to rule the world with weather-controlling machines, atomic power, and alien technology. Find out the origins of a genre in this presentation from Dr. Wesley Britton, author of The Encyclopedia of TV Spies.


On August 15, 1955, The Enchanted Forest opened for business in Ellicott City, Maryland. Appealing to families with small children, the theme park had a nursery rhyme theme and thousands flocked to see the pumpkin coach, Mother Hubbard's shoe and wave at Humpty Dumpty. Sadly, the theme park was forced to close in 1989 when much larger and elaborate attractions such as Kings Dominion and the mouse house in Florida gave people more bang for their buck. For a full hour, preservationists will show us what the park was like in its heyday, with photos and scale model, the history behind the theme park itself, and the sad state of affairs as the monuments today are still crumbling and falling apart, with neglect to any kind of restoration.

Hosted by Bruce Barrett.


Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man about town, had the power to cloud men's minds so that they could not see him. His constant friend and companion, Margot Lane, knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men. For a full hour we'll be treated to a history of the long-running radio program from 1930 to 1954, which later inspired the Alec Baldwin movie a decade ago. From horror host to crime-fighter, The Shadow's origins on radio will be explored with a fascinating slide show.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Lady's Discreet Raygun

for Steampunk Fans:

Stinray: Plant of Doom part 2

Marina, Troy and Phones enter the palace room.

They have a sumptious dinner.

Various fruits and lobsters

Marina enjoys the aroma of the plant, then replaces the cover.

Troy invites Marina to come to Marineville, but understand if she chooses to remain behind.

The Stingray is underway when Marina swims up to them (carrying that plant). "Open the starboard airlock, Phones," Troy says happily.

Back at Marineville, Troy tells what happened. Atlanta is concerned that Marina may be a spy, still working for King Titan.

Marina appears, and gives Atlanta the flower as a gift.

Atlanta plays the piano in her room. The flower begins to give off its aroma.

Atlanta faints.

Troy sees her through the window, unconscious. He breaks in and rescues her.

Everyone think Marina did it deliberately, except Troy.

The piano, and flower, have been moved into the command room, where Marina sees it.

Marina begins to play the piano. Very badly.

From their vantage point, Phones, Troy, Commander Shore and Atlanta watch.

Atlanta wants to call off the experiment, as she knows what Marina is oging through. But Shore wants to be sure.

Marina faints, and so they know that she knew nothing of the deadly flower. Atlanta promises to teach her how to play the piano, and gives her a lesson then and there.

Stingray: Plant of Doom

Sringray: Plant of Doom

Stingray is the 1964-1965 marionette series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Stingray is a submersible for the World Aqua Security Patrol, who fights a variety of aquaphibians to keep the surface world safe.

Plant of Doom was aired in the second year, on May 23, 1965, although it was the second episode filmed.

The under water city of Titanica

The throne room of King Titan of Titanica.

King Titan asks Teufel how he can obtain revenge on his slave Marina, who has dared to betray him by escaping.

Teufel thinks, and then responds.

A beautiful plant materializes. But it is deadly. It sucks the air out of a room.

Marina, sitting looking out over Marineville, is sad. (Marine's face is based on that of Brigitte Bardot)

Troy Tempest (facial features based on James Garner) decides he will take Marina to home, Pacifica.

Apparently, Marina can't write, either. By gestures, she indicates where Pacifica is located.

The Stingray travels past this mysterious island.

The home of Surface Agent X2O.

X20 contacts King Titan, and relates that Stingray has sailed past. He is summoned to Titanica.

X2O's ship. He is to take the flower to Pacifica, and give it to Marina's father. Titan will send out a Robot Ship to delay Stingray.

The command console in X2O's ship.

The Robot Fish attacks Stingray.

Troy takes evasive action.

Aquastingers from Stingray destroy the Robot ship.


X2O brings the flower as a gift to Pacifica, and tells him that his daughter, Marina, is coming. X2O then leave.

Stingray arrives at Pacifica.

The doorway to the throne room opens.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

TFOMC: Dial H For Hitchcock

Daily Space will now deal with mystery fiction, as well as fantasy and science fiction. To start with, I'm moving all the entries from my blog: The Friends of Mr. Cairo, over here.

Each Mystery oriented blog entry here will have the prefic TFOMC (The Friends of Mr. Cairo).

Dial H For Hitchcock, by Susan Kandel, is an enjoyable read, but before I get into my review, let me rant for a paragraph or two on the woes of a frustrated mystery writer! Twenty years ago, that's what I wanted to be, a mystery writer in the fashion of my favorite author, Agatha Christie.

And I even had a great idea for a plot. A group of people who wished to become members of the Delicious Death Society had to meet the entrance requirement - which was to have seen a production of every play Agatha Christie ever wrote. And as the group traveled hither and yon, eventually having to mount a production of Akhnaton themselves, they encountered mysteries and murders...which they totally ignored in favor of their on-stage mystery quest. It would have been fantastic, and hilarious...but I didn't have the staying power to write it, let alone the skill.

So imagine my annoyance and envy when, after reading Dial H For Hitchcock, I take a look at the other books in the Cece Caruso series and find that one of them is called Christietown, with the plot as follows: "A new suspense-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave desert is about to open. For the grand opening weekend, Cece Caruso is staging a play featuring the beloved sleuth Miss Marple. But everything goes wrong...including a leading lady who ends up dead."

Substitute my Delicious Death Society for that "suspense-themed housing tract," and this was the book I coulda/shoulda written 20 years ago! Well, I'll have to go out and acquire the copy, just to make my misery complete.

Anyway, back to the real subject of this hub, which is a review of Dial H for Hitchcock. It's brand new, the fourth book in the series, and the first book of Kandel's that I've read. I enjoyed it so much that I will be getting the remaining will be interesting to read Not a Girl Detective which features the mileiu of the Nancy Drew collector. (I always preferred the Hardy Boys myself, although my absolute favorite children/teens mystery series is the original Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series.)

Cece Caruso, "mystery biographer extraordinaire, vintage clothing enthusiast, and part time sleuth" goes to see a movie, carrying a purse with a clasp doesn't close all the way. Ths allows a cell phone to fall into the bag, unnoticed by her until she returns home.

Cece finds the phone because someone calls on it, and tells her to meet him at "Beachwood Canyon," never giving Cece a chance to tell him she's not who he thinks she is. She decides to go to the rendezvous to return the phone...only to witness a man and a woman struggling on a cliff...and then the woman falling to her death.

Cece then puts her sleuthing skills into high gear, to find the identity of the murderer...but quickly descends into the nightmarish realms that HItchcock did so well...of events that happen that don't make sense, of the innocent man (or in this case, woman) suspected of a crime she did not commit, all the while also working on her biography of Alfred Hitchcock which is overdue to the publisher!

Cece Caruso is a delightful character, and her personality comes across in the first person narrative style. She's funny, she's charming, and she's got a strong sense of justice.

Here's a few paragraphs from the book:

I broke into a run, hoping I'd magically transform into a superhero by the time I got to where they were. I craned my neck upward. They were close to the edge now, still tangled in each other's arms. It was at least thirty feet down. The sound of branches cracking under their feet reverberated across the canyon.

The sweat was pouring off my face now, the panic rising in my chest. Buster was barking loudly.

"Please!" The woman was struggling to pull herself free. "I'm begging you!"

Oh, God. I couldn't think. Everything was happening too fast.

"I'm calling 911!" I finally shouted.

But to my horror, I realized that I'd left her cell phone on the trail at least a quarter of a mile in the opposite direction.

I had to go back.

I had to get to the phone and call 911 so somebody would come and get her down and haul him off to jail.

But it was too late for that.

Because it was at precisely that moment--when I was feeling hot and scared and sorrier for myself than you can imagine--that a man I didn't know pushed a woman I didn't know off the edge of a mountain.

Her body hit the ground, somewhere out of my sightline, with an obscene thud.

Authour Susan Kandel has a firm grasp of first person witty and off-beat narrative and dialog, so much so that she reminded me of an edgier Elizabeth Peters (in her Vicky Bliss novels, not the Peabody series). The mystery is satisfying, the references to Alfred Hitchcock and his movies enjoyable, and Cece makes an appealing heroine.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Soundtrack Composer at Dark Delacies



4213 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505

When: 2PM Saturday, February 27, 2010

Come join Composer Bear McCreary at Dark Delicacies to celebrate the release of the soundtracks for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA THE PLAN/RAZOR and DARK VOID™

Composer Bear McCreary will be celebrating the release of two soundtracks in February with a special autograph signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA.

McCreary will be signing copies of the soundtracks for Battlestar Galactica: The Plan/Razor (La-La Land Records) and Dark Void™ (Sumthing Else Music Works).

On February 9th, Sumthing Else Music Works released the soundtrack for Dark Void™. Recorded at the renowned Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage and performed by some of the best orchestral musicians in the world, Dark Void™ Original Soundtrack features 80 minutes of score hand-picked by McCreary. It also includes a special bonus track, "Theme from Dark Void (Mega Version)," an 8-bit rendering of the main theme produced by McCreary for Capcom's just shipped downloadable DSiWare™ title, Dark Void™ Zero.

On February 23rd, La-La Land Records will release the soundtrack for Battlestar Galactica: The Plan/Razor which features original music composed by McCreary for the two feature-length TV events – The Plan looks at the events of the Cylon attack from the perspective of the Cylons and Razor which tells the story of the Battlestar Pegasus. La-La Land Records is releasing the The Plan/Razor soundtracks through a license agreement with NBC Universal Television, DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group.

The soundtracks for Battlestar Galactica: Season 1, 2, 3, and 4, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan/Razor, Caprica, Eureka, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Wrong Turn 2, Rest Stop and Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back, all composed by Bear McCreary, are available through La-La Land Records (

For more information on the event visit Dark Delicacies at, or

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Crazies comic books

The Thunder Child is a science fiction and fantasy webzine, and does not usually deal with horror. However, Matt Sanborn, whom we recently interviewed about his Call of Cthulu role playing books, has gracious consented to become our horror reviewer.

His review of the movie short Pickman's Model will be uploaded shortly, and within a few days we'll have his review of two The Crazies comic books.

The Crazies is a horror movie that will be making its debut on Feb 26. Here's the movie maker's explanation of the comic books:

Making a movie involves a series of compromises imposed by that most dreaded of enemies...time. These compromises comie in two forms: the limited time of the shoot, imposed by the budget, and the limits of precious screen time. The four enclosed comic books [hey, I only received two in your promo package!] offer an exciting way to expand our film's universe and thereby break the bonds of our screen time limitations.

The goal of the comic books is to offer four unique and original stories, each told from the point of view of one of these scondary characters. Each of the books is named after one of the interconnecting waterways that serve as both the town's water supply and the accidental delivery system of the toxin.

Stay tuned for the reviews.